Pagan

Other…

I was talking to a friend. She called herself “other”, meaning “different”…

It occurs to me that we are all other. I mean, even the people we think are “same” aren’t. How could we be? As far as I know, there are no cloned humans with exactly the same experiences. We might share a gender, political views, religious views, and sexual orientation but, even then, we came to those spots inside our own skins…

So, why did this idea of Other stick in my head?

It is because of this…We need to protect other. We need to appreciate the Otherness of those that are other. Gaaaaack, this seems so obvious to me. We will never be able to fully understand any human. Hell, we don’t even understand ourselves. Anyway, *sigh* to not protect Other, we fail to protect ourselves.

There’s nothing wrong with not being the same.

Current society thinks Other equals Dangerous. If your political views differ, that person must be a threat… I suppose I could go down the list but, y’all get the point…Jumpin’ Jimmeny Christmas and The Easter Bunny, being different doesn’t present an existential threat.

The next part of this thought is, how do we develop and mature our own views if we are so hidebound that we refuse to listen to difference? If am so unwilling to listen to dissent and become so defensive of my own views that I refuse to admit the possibility that I could be in error, odds are that MY views are less valid than I think. Perhaps it’s just me but, I do make mistakes and continually look for holes in what I think and my personal philosophies…and adapt when some Other shows me error or invalidity…

*****

Other is also a trap when you apply it to yourself…

“I am Other and they’re all the Same so, they couldn’t possibly understand me…” That’s what a kid says to their parents and a 20-something says to someone in their 50’s…Not realizing the oldsters survived what they are living. I know I used the section up there to point out how we’re all different but, which in this case doesn’t mean “please disregard”, in quite a few ways we are the same. We all started out pooping our pants. We all want whatever form of “success” we deem. We all want to love and be loved. We will all face the same end…

…and not to drop into “politics” because I have avoided making any indication of any “political” view I might have…

…Our parents survived the Cold War. *I was born in 1963*. Their childhood was filled with above ground Atom Bomb testing. Their parents were the generation of WWII. The parents of kids today, are children of the Viet Nam Era. The World has been filled with “threats” to us since before the Dawn of History…

We, humanity, will survive and adapt. It is our nature to do that…

*****

Other, hunh? Celebrate it.

Other, hunh? Protect it.

Other, hunh? Ignore it.

Other, hunh? Learn from it.

Other, hunh? Yeah, and Same…

Yeah, I Took Shots at EVERYONE…

Bits of thoughts…

I am NOT open-minded. In my world, people, as differentiated from “humanity” fall into 3 groups, people I like, people I dislike, and people that will be one or the other of the first two. Humanity is different, because of the people I like, I write about humans being treated with decency and compassion. I write FOR the people I like and love, to humans, about humanity and faith…

To the young lady parked next to me. Yeah, I saw the dyed pink hair and haircut shorter than mine. Yeah, I saw the rainbow flag on your rear deck. Yep, I looked to see what you looked like because I was curious. I “people watch”. Perhaps I’m reading more into the look you gave me in return but, you have no clue that I write a blog defending your right to live your life as you please so, perhaps instead of seeing a middle-aged guy driving a black Town Car, you might consider that not everyone that looks like me sees someone that looks like you as anything other than a fellow traveler on this rock, not the enemy…

I’m not sure that people really understand the word “conservative” *grins* I see a bunch of alleged “conservatives” wanting to get up in arms over the “bathroom issue”. They seem to think that “traditional conservative values” means that the Constitution was unclear when it used the word “citizens” and not “straight, white, male, Republican, Christian” in it. The Constitution uses that word several times for example here, “The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.” So if y’all all’s grasp of grammar is so poor as to misunderstand that one word, it comes as no surprise that bigger concepts like “equality” and “liberty” are beyond your grasp. Perhaps you should stick to simpler things like “fear” and “hate” as in this example, “Would y’all  misogynistic, homophobic, racist, semi-literate, cretins with delusions of grandeur please shut up?” *editorial, I am NOT a self-labeled Liberal. For most of my life, I have thought of myself as “conservative”. Now, that ideology has been hijacked by hate and fear so, I am of no political party and just look at the issues*…

While I’m at it… The nice thing about being me is that I have very few illusions about myself. I know my weaknesses and strengths. I know the bits of myself to be scared of and the places I trust. *there is a point to this* Guys that abuse women have no such confidence in themselves. All they have is weakness and the only way they are able to feel power is by making someone else less, sort of like those people in the last paragraph. The difference is that the people up there lash out at a group and the guys that abuse lash out at individuals. Either way, it is sadly pathetic when the only way you are able to feel any strength is to make someone else powerless…

And another thing…My Christianity doesn’t give me a lock on morality. When I first started using drugs, I owned and read a Bible and called myself Christian. If all it took was to claim a faith as the key, there would be no pedophile priests, spousal abusers in churches, or scammer t.v. evangelists. Just because you’re claiming “God Hates Fags” doesn’t make it so. If you actually read the words Jesus said, “love your neighbor as you love yourself” and claim that “God hates…” I suspect what you really mean is “I hate myself so, I’ll lash out at you…” Morality is a condition of your soul. It is entirely possible to be a transgender, Pagan, Lesbian and be moral. Just as it is possible to be a cishet, male, Christian and be a pedophile. It is the SOUL that matters, not the trappings around it…

Look, guys, we have to be realistic. We are not going to agree with everyone. We are not going to like everyone. There’s no way we’ll ever understand everyone but, we have to live together on this rock…at least to the day of our demise…so, it’s far easier on ourselves, and the rest of the world, if we spend less time hating and fearing what we don’t understand. There are a bunch of things to fear. I fear that a moment of weakness could bring relapse. I fear finding a scorpion in my shoe…I don’t have time to fear others because their lives are not inside my house or my head.

Predatory people happen. They are criminals. If I spend my life worrying that it will be disrupted by a criminal, I spend very little time LIVING my own and they win. If I spend my time making myself feel stronger by surrounding myself with cowards, how strong am I really? I’d rather be built up by the strength and courage of the people I know than to have sunk to the level of the fear mongers.

That’s it, in the end, do we have the strength to realize that “different” is not the same as “evil” or “loathsome”? Or do we stay with the comfort of our own xenophobic beliefs and forget Genesis 3:19?

By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return.”

The Great Equalizer comes for all of us one day…

Embrace

Embrace.

That word eliminates fear. It’s hard to be scared of a hug. The warmth of arms wrapped around you and the feel of another heart beat.

Sometimes a hug is just a thought. It’s a quiet prayer in the dark or a memory of a voice. It’s thinking, “that’s my friend and I love her”.

Hugs keep my monsters away.

A Comment Needed a Response and I’m NOT a Troll…

Reading other blogs is a good thing…sometimes…Other times I read the comments under them.

A few days ago I read a blog by a Pagan Lady explaining her friendship with a “Jesus Freak”. It was a very well written post talking about her friendship and how the two of them could get along. How they could find common ground and peace between them That they could share the blessings of their separate faiths with each other and not be intimidated or feel fear of the other. She also commented that some Pagans would *paraphrase* say it wasn’t possible and she was a traitor to her faith. Then a commentator proved her to be correct. He said he would accept allies “but”…In my mind, the word “but” in a sentence means “please disregard previous”…

I’m not a violent person. I haven’t physically hit someone since I was a kid on the playground. I wanted to smack the guy. You want allies only on your terms? Ok, here are mine to that guy. A. I don’t want to change you. B. I am an ally based on MY views, not yours. C. I am an ally because I want to be. It is my choice to attempt to help, not you compelling me. Alliances are based on MUTUAL respect and common ground. D. I may be some people’s ally but, *Yeah, that word* if you disrespect my views, I am not YOUR ally. You may feel free to reject the idea of my help and slight my beliefs, by doing that, it’s your loss, not mine…

*sigh*

Here’s the deal. I don’t “troll” comments or posts. If I have something to say, I use my own space to comment. I don’t get the need to disagree or argue with someone on line. I am willing to discuss a differing view but, to completely disparage another’s view, on a post that they wrote particularly when they are talking about a rare supporter of their belief system and an outsider that wants to help them, makes no sense to me.

I’m not “special”. I don’t need my ego stroked. I am also not common. I don’t know the percentage but, experientially there are very few pro-Pagan Christians that I have met…and I’ve looked for more. I need allies of my own faith to help me spread the word. If someone that is Pagan doesn’t want my help, fine, don’t take it. You have that right. Having said that, we, Christians ARE the majority view in this country. No matter how far my heresy goes, I’m still in the “club”. To push back against ANY of us that are willing to reach out or to put down ANY friendship that reaches out is “cutting off your nose to spite your face”…

Ok, the rant and “harsh” is over…*edit, I fibbed. my bad. rant continues toned down a tiny bit*

To more directly answer something I posed up there, “I am an ally because I want to be.” Why do I “want to be”? The short answer is because Aj, my “best friend that is not my wife” is Pagan. The longer answer is more complicated…

I didn’t want to be but, *that word again* I had to be. It would be easier not to be. A different blogger used the  phrase “agnostic Pagan” to describe the possibility that she might be mistaken. I have that same view, only Christian, I’ve been wrong before. It WILL happen again. To believe that my limited perspective and words I’ve read give me a lock on the Divine and morality is foolhardy…

It would be MUCH easier to be simplistic in my beliefs. “Christians good and EVERYONE else bad” is a far less complex world view but, that’s not the way I’m made. I am a person that recognizes my limitations.

*sigh*

There’s an, to borrow something from myself, expression “some of my best friends are (fill in the blank)”. It’s usually used by a racist, homophobe, or some other person to justify why they aren’t prejudiced…and they really are. In my case, some of my best friends are Pagan. No justification, fact. I can be judgmental and not exactly “tolerant” but, that’s based on the individual and not some charistic like faith or being LBGT. There are humans that fit any demographic that are people I love and like…and some that I think are complete a$$es…

Yeah, that guy bugged me and I can’t seem to get it out of my head.

I’m used to being the only Christian in a conversation or the only straight male. It would seem that the people I hang out with don’t care about those things and put up with my silly questions. *editorial, I mean on line. I go to work and come home. My “hang out” is virtual. My job requires much interaction and I like home and quiet* I digress, those people don’t “tolerate” or “accept” me, they are people I like and love and KNOW that is returned by them. They tease me and I tease back. Friends…that happen to not fit my demographic.

*sigh…for the I don’t know how many time*

My path is mine. I was raised Christian. I became “fallen”, if, not quite, atheist. I became, a bunch of years later, Conservative Christian. Over time, I wandered into heresy. It is my path. I don’t evangelize. If you don’t want to use the same path, don’t. It is not an easy one, questioning and doubting. It is mine, though. If you want your trail to parallel mine with a different faith, that’s fine. Keep your beliefs and faith and just walk along side. If you want my help, ask. If I am able and inclined, I will but, if you reject my help or lay conditions on what I do, don’t cry when I don’t. Don’t say that you reject my beliefs as they are as much a part of me as yours are part of you and then complain that you’re not getting the help or respect you think you deserve. It’s a two way street. Period. You get what you give.

I’ll take what help I can find. No matter if it’s from a Crone or a Saint. I’ll listen to words and, if there’s wisdom, gladly absorb what I am able. I’ll wish “Merry Christmas” or “Blessed Yule” depending on the person and not think twice. My nose doesn’t get out of joint at the idea that different beliefs are merely different, not wrong. I’ll respond to kindness and love with the same…

I’ve said it before, “I’m not your ally”. I might be a voice, if you’ll let me. I may not understand or share your views but, I’ll respect and defend your right to them and the practice of them. All I ask in return is the same I’m offering you…*editorial, I reserve the right to have self-contradictory views. I’m human*

Oh yeah, “mutual benefit”. What do I gain from helping you? Nothing but…some of the people I love and want the best for fit “your demographic” and what helps the people I love, helps me. If my words and thoughts make your life better and, as a result, theirs I’ve gained. To change their world for the better, I have to change yours, too.

Differences…

So, I was reading a different blog by a Pagan author. She was talking about how Pagans can’t seem to find a way to reconcile their different views. By that I mean they couldn’t agree that they could be different and get along with those differences. Does that make sense? So, I decided to do some research about Christian denominations…

I decided to do some research about Christian denominations…According to the numbers I could find, there are between 33 and 43 THOUSAND different “denoms” world wide. A “denom” *pardon shorthand* being defined as an organization in a country and not as an individual’s privately held belief. I suspect that there are as many different “beliefs” as there are Christians…

Anyway, the author of the post that prompted this thought lamented that they, Pagans, couldn’t seem to agree to disagree and accept that different people had different views. That some people HAD to try to force people to fit a box not of their own choosing…

Funny how some things cross every boundary.

*sigh*

People are different. My belief is that God made people in every shade and belief. He created genders and personalities. He made some to agree…and some to disagree. He gave every human some other human that they could love…sometimes he even gives us people to not be our mate and love deeply as friends. The varieties He created are as many as there are humans on the Earth…

Why do we have to put down, castigate, condemn, or slight those who are different since none of us are the same? I’d rather embrace the differences and share the wonder of the people I share my world with. Just because your beliefs or politics are different than mine doesn’t make you bad. What does is how you express those. If you see different as a reason to hate or put down, I’ve no use for you but, if you embrace the human that has the difference then you have worth and are part of the collection of people that make life worth having…

Who Put You In Charge?

You can’t be a (blank) because I decided you don’t fit MY standards of what that is…

So, just a question, who put you in charge?

*sigh*…

This one is just something that irks the crap out of me. The comment was on a pic that a friend posted on Facebook saying that the person in the pic wasn’t really Pagan. This is just an example. Apparently, though, I am not a “real Christian” because of my views toward the people I know that are Pagan or LBGT. Some of my friends aren’t “really gay” because they have children. Some of my Pagan friends aren’t Pagan enough to be “real” Pagans because they have “mixed” views on spirituality….and we can skip the entire set of political views that aren’t far enough to one end of the curve or the other to suit the ends…

Who decides? Do I get to claim a view or a path or do you get to tell me? Here’s a hint…while I value some humans views of what I am and what my friends are, those humans have earned the right to tell me, the rest might be better served contemplating why they would exclude someone that wants to be part of their group and give them support. If I call myself Heretic Christian, and I do, that means I am still Christian. If someone claims a faith, without sharing the inside of their Heart and Head, who are we to say they are not that? Every person is different. We all have our own ways of doing things.

Look, guys, from my end, I’d rather have someone that isn’t EXACTLY like me sharing my road and giving support than someone else blindly following my words without applying their own sense of reason. *editorial, I AM NOT giving approval of “participation trophies”. You have to reach the goal but, in the cases, I’m describing you get to set the target, not someone else*…

My other point, if you think someone isn’t (blank) enough to suit you, perhaps you are the person that needs the work and not them…

 

Some Not Really Connected Thoughts…

Still thinking…

When we decide that we are “sitting in judgement” are we really doing what is right? We have an obligation to decide what is criminal, meaning causing harm to others, but, what about other actions? What about someone’s beliefs? Someday, I’ll stand before my maker and have to talk about MY life, not yours.

When we presume to judge the condition of someone’s soul, we are taking from God, that power and responsibility. We, as Christians, are warned against that. We are told, specifically, that the same standard we use will be used on us. If we judge based on our perceptions of “flawed” are we so very sure that His perception of “flawed” will not include some aspect of us? Are ANY of us so perfect that every bit of us can stand the scrutiny that we apply to others?

I KNOW I could not pass that test…

*****

Divination scares me. Rituals scare me. So, I don’t practice them. Makes you wonder why I am so protective of Witches? Because Witches don’t scare me. I know too many. I just don’t ask them about the ritual aspects.

*****

“With great power comes great responsibility”

We, each of us, has the power of life and death. We believe that our own view is the most important. We know that we, ourselves only,  are unique.

So, what do we do with that? Do we use our “power”, meaning our innate sense of self and value, to condemn, in our view, others for being “not us” and not “unique” or do we recognize that other people are just as individual?

That’s the question…and the power. We may recognize that people have the same rights of self and individuality that we so strongly claim or we may remove them from humanity, and life, by piling them into a group that we think are less than us and giving them “death”.

To trivialize someone for their belief is to take away from our own. To claim significance for ourselves and say that our view stands above the rest minimizes our beliefs just as we do to them. Being the biggest algae in the pond is no accomplishment. I’d rather stand among peers of strong faith and belief…even if I do not share them…than be just another green slime claiming to be king…

*****

These were just some stuff that bounced around. My life, out here, was busy for a couple of weeks because of work. Feel free to ask me stuff. I’ll answer. We might disagree. I might become defensive because I do “cherry pick” the Bible. I believe that we all do. We take the parts we want and “disregard the rest” to paraphrase Simon and Garfunkle…

I’ll leave you with this, my views are valid…for me…I’ll defend your right to your perspective, even if I don’t share it.

You Ask Me…

I’m going to try an experiment. Usually, a blog post gives a view or an idea or a story. In this one, you guys ask the questions. I am willing to answer ANY question about me, my past, my personal faith, my addiction, my views on LBGT’s, my perspective on other faiths, or any other thing you think I need to answer…with this caveat, I will not answer any questions that endanger the safety or privacy of those I write about. That includes but is not limited to my wife, Aj, Z, Kelly, or any other person referenced in any post that is not a public figure.
Please, feel free to ask here or on the Facebook page linked to the blog. My life will be an open book. *editorial, I don’t think I’m that important or interesting* I am merely trying to start a dialog.

Questions…

Questions I don’t want to ask…or maybe I do and just am not sure I want the answers…but am willing to explore anyway…

Do Pagans believe the Christian God exists?

Why is selling steaks easier than “selling” Pagans? I love a good steak but, that’s just a dead cow. Pagans are humans and much more important. The body can survive on almost anything but, the soul needs nourishment that is very specific to it…and the soul lasts longer than the shell it occupies…

Why do people insist on only seeing their fears and not try to see anything else? Related to that, why do we fear someone else for their beliefs and not their actions?

Why do people insist that if they don’t do something, you have to not do the same thing they don’t do? Like, why insist that someone stops eating meat because you don’t? *editorial, that was the most “neutral” I could come up with*

Why do people’s interactions on matter’s of Faith have to be adversarial? It isn’t a contest. It isn’t “my God is the best and so you have to be worthless”. For example, we Christians believe that because of our belief in Jesus, we are forgiven and get an afterlife in Heaven. It says it in the Bible, right? So, we assume that John 3:16 says as an addendum that “…and whoever doesn’t believe in Him will go to Hell” but, that isn’t in there. We added that part to make it a contest…

Someday when I grow up I’ll have some answers…if you can help, please give it a shot…

”If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.”

I’m confused. Maybe you can help me to understand. I keep bumping into the endless series of “why” questions…
Why is it ok for me to wear a cross or a Jesus t-shirt and it isn’t for a Pagan to wear a Pentagram or clothing expressing their faith?

Why is it ok for me to get upset if I think my faith, with all they myriad sect, is called a “cult” but, Pagans are expected to let it go?

Why is it “normal” for us to have a church on every corner and Pagans have to hide? We say they have rituals in the dark and the woods because they are evil and trying to hide. That isn’t the case, they respect and worship their Gods in nature and see the divine in the outdoors. We forced them to hide from us and blame them for hiding…

*sigh*

Once upon a time, we had a “good ole boy”, Clayton Williams, running for Governor of Texas who compared bad weather to rape. He said, ”If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.” Is that what we expect Pagans to do in a Christian society? We expect them to “enjoy it” when we ridicule them. We expect them to “relax” when we bully and shun? That’s how they’re supposed to face the “inevitable”?

Religious persecution and bullying are the same things. A rapist thinks that taking what they want from a person is their right. They do not see a human but, an object. Religious persecution sees as a right, removal of person and making an object out of a human. Neither sees the “wrongness” of their action because they only recognize the validity of themselves and not the other.

At our core, what we find as our “faith” is the most basic of our “intangibles”. It is our most basic self-identity. An attack on that calls for us to question everything else in our life. From our Faith or lack, comes our sense of place and value. It gives us a context for our life and a group identity. Outside of sexual orientation, it is the most important of the ways we define ourselves.

To strip that away, to make us fearful of being attacked for that is the equivalent. It, being attacked for faith, calls us to question our lives, values, and worth. It leaves us with fear and paranoia.

So, why do we think it’s our right and duty to ostracize? Why do Christians think that Christianity allows them to attack someone else’s faith while screaming “PERSECUTION” when the return is given. *editorial, I made a blanket statement without blanket intent. Not all Christians persecute and not all Christians cry when it is returned* Why do we expect to be able to attack with impunity? To ridicule without opening up ourselves to the same? To call someone “worthless” and not show our own same lack of worth? We “reap what we sow”.

I suppose I am naive. *sigh* I thought I was taught to treat others like I want to be treated. It doesn’t matter to me what your beliefs are Pagan, Christian, “Christian-ish”, or Heretic. Those are your core.

If I want my heresy to be respected, my “self” not to be violated, my life not to be “fear, I need to give you the same room in yours. You’re not an object and you, the physical and intangible, person deserve the safety of your person. I don’t have to understand you. I do have to protect and care for you. I NEVER get to expect you to “relax and enjoy it” unless I am willing to do the same…